With his bank’s net income down 31% year-over-year, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein saw a 4% reduction in compensation in 2015, down $1m to $23m.
The cut comes after Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan – the US’s largest bank group – received a 35% bump in compensation to $27m after cost-cutting measures, including layoffs of 5,000 workers in 2015, helped stem declines and drive the company to record earnings of $24.4bn for the year.
The majority of Blankfein’s pay was stock ($14.7m) on top of a $2m base salary and a $6.3m cash bonus. Dimon’s compensation has been adjusted to include a greater percentage of company shares to stave off criticism that the executive’s pay package was not sufficiently tied to the health of the company he runs.
Goldman has altered its executive compensation policies so that some stock options only pay out if the worker in question meets specific performance criteria.
CEO pay is increasingly under scrutiny as the market weaves back and forth between impressive rallies and losing streaks; anyone perceived as unable to steer the ship through rough waters is suspect. Sumner Redstone, executive chairman of Viacom, saw his pay reduced by 85% by the company in 2015 as a shareholder lawsuit sharply criticized the 92-year-old billionaire and claimed he was no longer able to run the company.
The attention to executive compensation is also likely driven by new rules dictated by the Securities and Exchange Commission that come into effect next year: companies will be required to provide in public filings not merely the rate at which top executives are compensated but its ratio to the median pay of all its workers (with the exception of the CEO).
This article was written by Sam Thielman in New York, for theguardian.com on Friday 22nd January 2016 22.07 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010